Some of Australia’s leading pollies and music industry top are mounting an ambitious push to get Yoko Ono to bring her legendary John Lennon Educational Tour Bus down under.
The not-for-profit initiative, touted as a “state-of-the-art mobile audio and HD video recording and production facility”, has been helping change the lives of underprivileged youth in Europe for five years — and the US for two decades — by empowering them to create music.
And WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle is leading the charge to launch the dream-building bus here in Australia, with the help of big-name promoters Michael Chugg and Mark Pope.
As Fairfax Media reports, the trio have held chats in Canberra to get ministerial backing for the project, which they reckon would do uncapped amounts of good for marginalised youth, especially in regional and remote areas of Australia.
Pope says they’re lobbying the government to secure an initial $2 million to get the bus built, with another $8 million needed to get it on the road for the flagged launch date of October 2018.
“We see it as being $10m in funding between government and philanthropic funding as well,” the Wave Aid mastermind tells Fairfax. “We’ll be doing commercial deals with ‘right fit’ companies to run the bus and the digital footprint of how it gets out, through the internet.“It’s about corporate Australia – and overseas companies as well – giving back too.”
The Aussie version of the bus would be a bit different from the US design (and not just in terms of which side the steering wheel’s on!), incorporating a fully equipped multi-media studio and a fold-out stage for musical ambassadors like Jimmy Barnes to hold pop-up gigs at different locations; potentially once a month.
The plan is for the bus to visit 250 schools in metro and regional areas each year, giving our country’s youth free, hands-on opportunities to produce music, video, photo, game app and broadcast based projects and inspire them to pursue careers in the arts. “We can use John Lennon’s legacy to inspire the next generation and other generations after that, to have a career in music,” Pope says.
Meanwhile, on a recent trip to check out the US version of the bus, Senator Serle says he ran into the one and only Yoko Ono Lennon, and immediately quizzed her on whether she might come down under to christen the bus if and when it launches. “We sat down and had a talk and my first question was, ‘Would you come to Australia Yoko if we launched it?’ and she said ‘yes’,” Serle reveals. “And, of course, Yoko’s 84 so her health is a consideration for travelling here to Australia but they also tell me it was only two years ago that she was jumping and jamming around on stage. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. “The work of John and Yoko [is] part of the mantra of the bus,” he adds. “It’s about peace, it’s about racial integration and it’s about harmony and all that good stuff and it can’t go astray in rural Australia, or our cities for that matter.”